Studies, Reviews and Research

Changing Times: The International Response to Internal Displacement in Colombia

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The Brookings Institution

Colombia has over 5.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), a situation which has developed over the course of decades. Colombia is fairly unique in that the international community does not provide material aid to IDPs in Colombia. Instead, they play a supportive role to Colombia in managing the situation. Among its questions, this report asks: if there are no camps to manage and no aid to distribute, what does it mean to coordinate international humanitarian response? and what role should international humanitarian actors play in a country like Colombia?

2004 marked a turning point for IDPs in Colombia  not because of humanitarian reform but because of a major constitutional court decision, Sentencia T-025, which compelled the government to undertake fundamental changes in its approach to IDPs. Are Colombian IDPs better off than they were ten years ago? This study suggests that the answer is a qualified yes. The system to respond to immediate needs of IDPs and the quality of assistance has improved. Yet preventing displacement has become more difficult over the past decade because of the proliferation of armed actors. 

This is a case study of Colombia and its approach to IDPs. It begins with an overview of conflict in Colombia and concludes with recommendations for both the Colombian government and the international humanitarian community.

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